NS Bikes Clash 1 £1099.99

Alloy hardtail play bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

The NS Clash 1 is not subtle, but neither is the brutal life of jumps, downhill and general mucking about that it’s designed for. It’s brilliant value, though, as long as you don’t want something to go day riding or comfy cruising on.

Ride & handling: Bomber wheels but stiff feel

According to NS Bikes distributors Hotlines, the Clash 1 is “a hardtail that will feel great to ride hard on any kind of challenging terrain – from big drops and jumps to long climbs and winding singletrack”. Well, the first part of that sentence is undoubtedly true, but the second half is a case of interpretation at best. 

While the bike is certainly long enough in the top tube to offset the super short stem, and while the Kenda tyres do roll quickly, the low frame means that only shorter riders will be able to get the seat up to a really efficient pedaling height. The frame is also so rigid that even slightly rough trails will turn the BMX-style saddle into something more akin to a meat tenderising mallet.

Get out of the saddle and push weight forward into the attack position, though, and the Clash is in its element. Unlike a pure jump bike there’s plenty of travel in the Stance fork to really soak up punishment and drive it through big rock sections without chucking you over the front. 

The wide bar and super short block stem sync with the tapered top, 34mm legs and 15mm axle of the fork to let you take the fattened tyres and stiff wheels right to the edge. There’s room in the frame to go bigger or knobblier on rubber too, so there’s no reason for weather to stop your fun.

The frame stiffness means immediate and explosive response to power injection too, combining with the fast-rolling tyres to make it the quickest out of the blocks. Obviously a near-13kg (29lb) weight means you need some muscle to get it going and it can’t compete with lighter bikes, but at least you know it isn’t wasting any of your wattage.

NS Bikes Clash 1

Frame & equipment: Super-tough chassis plus great spec for the price

While the frame only comes in small and smaller, there’s nothing small about the tube sizes. The top tube and rear stays are particularly huge, for top end stiffness and strength that will work whichever way up it hits the ground. Super-thick rectangular bridge pieces also help to keep things together if you under rotate a landing. 

The simple cone head tube with a big weld and force alignment, helped by the slight flared curve on the down tube, means it can handle nose-first slams onto the chunky fork and just roll out, rather than crumpling underneath you. 

There’s an ISCG guide for the supplied e*thirteen guide to keep your chain in check. The rear brake is IS mount rather than post, though, which necessitates an extra bracket and pair of bolts. All control lines are routed under the top tube, and there’s a spare line of clips for a remote dropper post cable/hose and a cable stop for a top pull front mech too.

Like we say, the frame sizes are compact in terms of their height, which restricts maximum seatpost height, but there’s plenty of length in the 16in frame to keep it balanced and give breathing space when you’re out of the saddle.

The embroidered jump seat on top of the twin-bolt inline seatpost gives a fairly big clue to the fact that this bike isn’t designed for a lot of seated action. The BMX-style stem, super wide colour-coded bars and Ruktion crank and Howitzer bottom bracket are all about being airborne and landing with style too.

The 140mm (5.5in) travel Slant fork is a super versatile unit that will rip berms, suck up landings or take on braking bumps and random rocks without kicking you into orbit. 

The top guide and bottom roller on the e*thirteen chain device mean your chain isn’t going anywhere even when you and the fork are at the ragged edge, and the broad rims fatten up the fast rolling tyres really well. 

While they’re out of their depth in real gloop, the Kenda Small Block Eight tyres are super fast and remarkably grippy on dry, intermediate or groomed trails, helping to offset the hefty overall weight.  Functional – rather than fancy – SRAM X5 kit means replacement costs are low if and when you trash it too. 

We’ve no track record experience of the Octane One hubs, but the other kit is fine and the amount of bike you’re getting for the price makes it a proper bargain.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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